LANCASTER - Same-sex Attraction: should we err on the side of grace or truth? The answer may surprise you.
By Shane Idleman; www.WCFAV.org
Phil Robertson, of Duck Dynasty fame, sparked controversy after saying that homosexual behavior is a sin. But it begs the question, "What should a Christian's stance be?" Biblically speaking, our stance must include both grace and truth. We are to be welcoming, but not affirming.
I have nothing but compassion for those trapped in the homosexual lifestyle. Those who strongly believe in the Bible and God's will regarding sexual behavior, also strongly believe in unconditional love and forgiveness. To say that authentic Christians hate, or fear, those trapped in the homosexual lifestyle demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of the principles of the Christian faith. To "speak the truth in love" simply comes from a desire to honor God, and to truly love and care for others.
In 2013, an online viewer made the following comment to a friend, "When I watched the video, Same-sex Attraction—Balancing Grace and Truth, I was cut to the heart. I cried out to God to save me...and He did. I'm now trying to minister to my partner who is dying of AIDS." God used the balance of truth and grace in this sermon to convict, challenge, and change. The ability to relate to people on their level, show genuine concern, and love them regardless of their lifestyle is the mark of true Christianity—compassion without compromise. (Click the following link to view this sermon: http://vimeo.com/47460132)
Unfortunately, Christians often embrace one of two extremes. At one extreme are those who insult, or who are violent toward, those trapped in this lifestyle; homosexuality appears at the top of their sin list; there is very little love or compassion. The other extreme excuses this sin and looks the other way. Both extremes are wrong and offer a false impression of genuine Christianity—we must extend compassion but without compromise.
If warning, confronting, challenging, and advising can all be categorized as "hate-speech," as many say, then, based on this definition, many parents hate their children. But of course the opposite is true: parents love their children, so much so that they warn, confront, challenge, and advise daily.
Certain "rights" and "wrongs" called absolutes are given by God to save man from himself. In the same way that a foundation supports the entire structure—house or skyscraper—foundational biblical truths support the social structure. Nearly all of our social issues are related to the stability and structure of the God-ordained family.
Many say that we cannot take a position on homosexuality because all positions will hurt someone. But are those who defend homosexuality, or who say nothing, truly loving the homosexual, or are they simply seeking to avoid conflict? If they are more worried about being liked than being truthful, do they really care for homosexuals more than the person who is willing to risk their reputation, and quite possibly their safety, in order to speak the truth in love? The answer is obvious: authentic Christians love the truth, and others, so much so that they are willing to risk the consequences of confrontation in order to help others. This is genuine love, not hatred. "When we become so tolerant that we lead people into mental fog and spiritual darkness, we are not acting like Christians—we are acting like cowards" (A.W. Tozer).
The battle cry is focused on "individual rights," instead of what does God's Word say? And it's really not about "rights" it's about validation. The culture wants Christians, the legal system, and the media to validate sin. But God's Word is very clearly opposed to fornication, adultery, homosexuality, pornography, and other sexual sins. If our sexual preferences run contrary to God's Word, we must change our preferences, not redefine truth.
Same sex marriage is not about "rights"—it's about sexual "choices." But can we legislate morality? No, we cannot change hearts by forcing laws or rules on them, but we can uphold statutes that protect the health and welfare of society...such as preserving marriage between a man and a woman.
Although times change, God's standards do not. No matter how many laws are passed in favor of same-sex marriage, it will not change God's mind. His principles are guardrails through the canyons of life. They don't prevent us from enjoying life; they protect us from falling. Consider the following:
1. The "moral" laws in the Old Testament such as killing, stealing, lying, adultery, sexual immorality, and so on are all valid today. Jesus referred often to the Old Testament, and said that He didn't come to abolish it, but to fulfill it. For example, Leviticus 20:13 states, "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination..." To suggest that this verse is invalid today is to advocate the dangerous practice of redefining or deleting what God has said.
2. Jesus condemned "all" sexual activity outside of marriage between a man and woman when He said, "Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications...these defile a man" (Matthew 15:19). The word "fornication" in the Greek is porneia; where the word "pornography" comes from. It includes all illicit sex.
3. An argument cannot be based solely on silence. To suggest that Jesus approved of homosexuality simply because He did not use the term "homosexual," is to imply that He approved of necrophilia, pedophilia, incest, and bestiality. But, of course, we know better.
4. Other passage in the New Testament are clear on this issue as well. Romans 1:18-32 and 1 Corinthians 6:1-20 are good places to start. In short, mankind did not see fit to acknowledge God and they suppressed the truth; therefore, God gave them over to a depraved mind—to do those things which are not proper. Homosexual behavior, and sexual sin in general, is comparable with dishonoring the body and turning from God.
5. Jesus said that since the beginning of creation, God created them male and female in order that they would be joined together and become one flesh. He adds, "Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate" (Mark 10:9).
Please don't misunderstand: Christian's are sinners too; the only difference is that we have embraced God's gift of forgiveness and redemption through His Son. If you're hopeless, depressed, and confused, look to the One who created you. He has the answers. No matter what you have done, you have the ability to turn to Christ and start anew. It's all about Who you know: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9). "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
[Shane Idleman, is the founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Lancaster, Ca. This is an excerpt from his new book, Desperate for More of God. More can be found at www.ShaneIdleman.com]
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